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Hunter Hale impresses as Suns fall to Pelicans in third Summer League game

Guard Hunter Hale impressed for the Suns tonight. © Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With second-round standout Toumani Camara resting, the Phoenix Suns (now 1-2) fell 83-72 to the New Orleans Pelicans (2-1) in their third Summer League game.

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Plenty of notable faces came out to watch the Suns today, including owner Mat Ishbia, CEO Josh Bartelstein, former Suns’ forward Cam Johnson and new guard Eric Gordon. Suns’ super fan Mr. Orng also made an appearance.

The Suns trailed 36-39 at halftime, but went on a 13-0 run in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter. However, they couldn’t sustain the momentum of their hot second half start.

Camara was resting on the second game of a back-to-back and said that he is day-to-day, according to the ESPN broadcast. He could play Friday. He had 11 points yesterday against the Heat and 20 on Saturday against the Bucks.

Jordan Goodwin also sat out his second consecutive game because of left knee soreness. Both Goodwin and Camara are the only Suns’ Summer League players that are under contract.

Yesterday’s leading scorer, Barry Brown Jr. (14 points), also did not play tonight.

So who did play well for the Suns without three of their best players?

Hunter Hale, who did not play in the Suns’ first two games, finished with a game-high 21 points. The guard scored eight points in the first quarter off the bench (11 in first half). For the game, he went 7-of-13 from the field and converted 6-of-12 shots from downtown. The 26-year-old also recorded four rebounds and four assists.

Here’s some info on Hale from our Summer League roster breakdown: 

The 6-foot-4 Hale has developed into a terrific scorer at the professional level after a long college career. The Kalamazoo, MI native first walked on to Central Michigan in 2015-16 and then transferred to Division II Grand Valley State after redshirting his sophomore year. After two seasons at GVS and helping lead them to a conference title where he was named MVP, he transferred to Winthrop for his final year of eligibility in 2019-20. He led the team in scoring (13.9 points) and took home Big South conference tournament MVP honors after leading Winthrop to the title before COVID shut down the NCAA tournament.

He went undrafted in 2020, then signed with the Nelson Giants of the New Zealand National Basketball League in 2021. He was named to the NBL All-Star Five after leading the league with 26.9 points per game. Since then, he has played with Borac Čačak of the Basketball League of Serbia and the ABA League, where he has averaged 17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG on 44/38/83 splits in two seasons.

Trey Jemison, a rookie center out of UAB who has started all three games for the Suns, showed off his strength on three powerful dunks in the second half. He continued to impress as a vocal leader down low and finished tonight with nine points and 11 rebounds.

Grant Sherfield, rookie guard out of Oklahoma, had 11 points and five assists for the Suns, while Jordan Usher tacked on nine points.

Tevian Jones led the Pelicans in scoring with 16 points off the bench to help them take the victory. He was one of five Pelicans to score in double digits compared to just two for the Suns.

Toumani Camara Shines Despite Suns First Summer League Loss to Bucks

The Suns will next take on the Jazz on Friday (the 14th) at 7:30 p.m. MST on NBA TV. It is to be determined if either Camara and Goodwin will suit up for them then, but it looks they have another fun player to watch in Hunter Hale.

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Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on Twitter via @Brendan_Mau 

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